AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
The adjustment period is over, now is the time the Red Sox need their ace to pitch like an ace. Tonight, Price will be facing off against one of the best pitchers (and hitters) in the NL this season, Madison Bumgarner. Despite the fact Price has shrunk his era each of his last 5 starts after reaching 6.75 on May 7th, he has not pitched like a lights-out, shutdown ace since joining the Red Sox this offseason. He has yet to have a scoreless outing through 12 starts, allowing at least 2 earned runs in all but 1 start (May 12th vs the Astros, 1 earned run).
The Red Sox are paying Price $30 million this year, making him the 3rd highest paid pitcher in baseball behind Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Zach Greinke of the Diamondbacks. Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball and is earning every bit of his $34.5 million salary with an 8-1 record, 1.46 era, 109 Ks stat line and although Greinke is far from Kershaw’s level, he has allowed fewer runs than Price and has had 4 starts in which he allowed fewer than 2 earned runs, including his most recent two starts in which he allowed 0 earned runs. Price needs to pitch like he is one of the best pitchers in baseball to justify the Red Sox paying him like one. Tonight is the night to prove his worth.
Bumgarner has been grabbing a lot of headlines lately, but not for his great pitching numbers this year. He has 2 HRs in just 32 at-bats this season and now has 13 career bombs, including 5 in 2015 in just 77 at-bats. He may be batting .156 this season and .180 for his career, but when he makes contact, watch out. To go along with this offensive prowess, Bumgarner has a 7-2 record alongside a nifty 1.91 era in his 12 starts this season. It’s going to be difficult for the Red Sox offense to pile up runs tonight, so they will need to take advantage of any opportunities and jump all over any mistakes Bumgarner makes, if there are any.
Despite improvement from Price, I still have no confidence in him to shut down a lineup. Without Buster Posey and Hunter Pence, the Giants lineup is run-of-the-mill and doesn’t scare anyone, making this a perfect opportunity for Price to shine and continue to gain confidence by putting 0s on the board.
Meanwhile 3,000 miles away, the Baltimore Orioles are surging and have won 7 of their last 10. They have been propelled into 1st in the AL East by 0.5 game, so every W is critical for the Red Sox. The Orioles have even more momentum after a brawl erupted last night when Manny Machado charged the mound after being hit by Kansas City Royals starter Yordano Ventura. The Orioles won 9-1, their 3rd straight victory.